KOTA KINABALU: The move by Opposition Gabungan Rakyat Sabah’s Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) to field more candidates than agreed with their partners was a defensive way to protect the party, says its secretary-general Datuk Jahid Jahim.
He said PBS was just defending its position when it decided to increase the number of seats contested from 15 to 22 for the upcoming polls.
“We are not being greedy as claimed by many, but rather taking a defensive position in order to secure our seats and win for Perikatan Nasional, especially when it is clearly that we were being attacked from several sides.
“But we were prepared for a friendly contest from day one. We expected multiple contests from partners, and we are ready to defend our position, ” he said, adding that the party took current skirmishes among allies in their stride.
He said the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah allies of Perikatan, Sabah Barisan Nasional and PBS found it impossible to agree on who should withdraw to avoid clashes during a seat allocation meeting with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin in Kuala Lumpur.
Jahid, who is defending his Tamparuli state seat, said in the two meetings chaired by Hamzah, emotions were high and they were all unable to find a common solution.
He said this led to a failure to obtain approval from any partner to withdraw.
Jahid also said it was Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan who openly told PBS deputy president Datuk Seri Radin Malleh that they can place a candidate in Liawan on their own logo, if there was no compromise for that seat.
“We believe that this matter is important to avoid a split of votes and could give an edge to our opponents, but as we said, we did our best to avoid the problem.
“A day before nomination day, our intelligence and senior leaders monitoring the constituencies allocated to us found that colleagues and partners of Barisan and Perikatan were putting up candidates and independents for open friendly contests. It was clear, ” he said.
Jahid gave an example of their seats in Tandek, Matunggong, and Kadamaian, where Barisan component Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) collided with PBS in the three constituencies despite the fact that both parties are in the alliance.
Sabah Barisan’s Umno went against Radin in Melalap and three others in Bengkoka, Tanjung Aru and Telupid, while MCA openly clashed seats in Kapayan and Karamunting.
“As for Sabah STAR, it turned out to be that they prepared themselves well and put up independents using several of their division chiefs in Bengkoka through Pransol Tiying, Datuk Anita Baranting (Tandek), Dr Paul Porodong (Matunggong), and Marcel Jude Joseph (Api-Api).
“PBS has hardly had any constituency that is not contested by Perikatan and Barisan partners. However, we take it in the good spirit of the friendly contest, ” he said.
He said there was still time to analyse its position on the ground and that PBS would be evaluating its position before the polling day on Sept 26.
“Before Sabahans cast their votes, through ground observations, PBS is open to sit down for the sake of discussion and compromise to see who is the best torch-holder for Perikatan, ” he said, hinting that some could withdraw if they did not have the support.